My Dad and the Hummingbird
Back in about 1979, I was living in Vanderhoof, B.C. – Rick Hooper and I were sharing/renting a house from Rick’s Parents. The house was on about 4000 acres of land they owned. We were having a great time, working hard, drinking a lot and buying more ammunition than groceries each week.
After a long and damn cold winter, my Dad came up in May or June for a visit. He rode up with Don and Karen Charlton. They stayed for only a few days, but many legends were made during that visit. (Some of which I may tell you about later) My Dad and Rick’s Dad hit it off and they were like peas & carrots right away. They were going all over the countryside having a great time together. I think they were both glad to be hanging out with someone roughly their same age and a little alcohol may have been involved too.
Anyway, about the hummingbird - My Dad used to keep pet birds. He really liked them and he had quite a few over the years in the 1960’s – singing canaries mostly – until he had an accident with a pair of finches; he put them beside a window and draped the curtains over their cage, to give them some fresh air. After a while the Sun came around and they died in the hot Oliver, B.C. Summer Sun. Dad felt badly about this and he never kept any pet birds after that.
Hummingbirds used to come in the house in Vanderhoof. They couldn’t find their way out and would buzz up against the windows like a big bug. I would put my finger under them and they would sit there looking at me and huffing and puffing because they were very tired from buzzing on the window. If I walked away to take the hummingbird out the door, they would always fly off my finger back to the window. To take the little birds outside to set them free, I would have to catch them “cupped” with both hands, then go outside and let them go.
One of these hummingbirds came in while my Dad was visiting, so I showed him how they would rest on my finger. Then Dad tried this and sure enough, the little bird just sat there with its little chest heaving, staring at my Dad. Dad looked at me and smiled just a little. Then the hummingbird flew back onto the window and started buzzing around again. I told Dad to catch the hummingbird in his cupped hands; which he did. Dad then slowly walked outside and opened his hands to let the bird go. But it didn’t fly away – it just laid there, on its side, looking at my Dad. Dad brought his hand closer to have a good look at the colourful little hummingbird.
The hummingbird stayed on my Dad’s for 5 or 6 seconds, with the bird and my Dad looking each other in the eye from about a foot away from each other. Then it took off – buzzing away so quickly that it was out of sight in about a second. Dad turned around, look at me and he had the biggest smile I had ever seen. His face was just beaming when he said to me, “I liked that.” I’m certain my Dad felt some redemption for those little finches that fried in the Sun all those years ago. I was only happy to see my Father, who I loved more than any other man, so happy about freeing that little hummingbird.
This simple story is for you and my family – so you will know a little about my Father. There are none alive now, but me, who will remember this. If I don’t write this down, it’s gone forever. Think about this. . . what stories should you write about?